The Pink Bus and Other strange Tales from LaLa Land actually got its start a long time ago. I wrote a short story right into this blog around Christmas 2014 called The Meaning of Christmas and thought I’d keep a copy in my desktop folder just in case. I went back to it a few times, tweaked it, edited it and so on but couldn’t really think how to build upon it. Then, as things do, a few weeks ago, I started writing short stories. They simply poured out of me one after the other and they all seemed to be themed around death, reincarnation, ghosts and supernatural activity and the meaning of life in general. That was when I saw where the Meaning of Christmas belonged….
I honestly think it is some of my best writing. Wether anyone agrees or not I don’t really care as I think it is my best writing work so far and that’s what counts. Will it sell? I hope so and we will see.
Of course, the final version of The Meaning of Christmas is a very edited version of the original so, just to whet you appetite, here is the Meaning of Christmas from The Pink Bus…..
The Meaning of Christmas
The scene was a familiar one: A Street filled with people hustling and bustling and jostling each other as they hurriedly made their way through the crowd. Their breath hung in the freezing air like little trails of wood smoke. The street was lit, in the darkness of the winter’s late afternoon, by the gaily-coloured Christmas lights hanging from each lamp and in the shop windows. With just a few days left until the holiday, these were the ‘last-minuters’ – those who were increasingly desperate to grab their last few bargains and presents.
Phillip watched in silence. The scene had a surreal quality about it. He observed the anxious faces of people who, in some instances, could ill -afford the presents they were trying to purchase. He watched with an increasing understanding of each individual’s particular set of dilemmas. Everyone has a cross to bear. He felt sorry for the single mother, loaded down with two excitable, young children. He knew that she had little money and even less self-confidence and yet, her kids’ eyes shone with excitement. It would be a meagre Christmas for them, but they were excited all the same.
He observed an older man silently gazing into the window of a jewellery shop and he realized that the man was crying. He was crying and aching inside because he faced his first Christmas alone in over forty-years and he had just noticed a ladies’ watch that looked very much like the one he had bought his wife for Christmas the previous year. She had now been dead four months, and the pain of it still wracked his heart. He hadn’t a clue how he would get through the holiday without her.
He watched the street entertainer playing guitar and singing and he understood just how cold his fingers were in the freezing air. He was hoping that these shoppers could spare enough change for him to have a hot meal. There would be no turkey and trimmings for him this year. No sitting in the warmth around a brightly lit tree. He would be lucky to find a warm place to sleep and maybe a small bottle of rum to keep him warm through the night.
And yet, in all of the mayhem and the personal stories of life – sadness, happiness, stress, worry and all of those other emotions- Phillip understood something else as he watched the scene play out in front of him that night: He understood the meaning of Christmas.
He understood finally that it wasn’t about gifts, the giving or receiving. It wasn’t about the lights, the trees or the big movie on television. Christmas, he now knew, was about hope. It was about the hope – and the faith that people could learn to love each other. It was about the little things that came from love, hope and charity. It was about the humanity behind Humanity and its potential for good.
He could understand this now in the light of the love that he could see glowing, more strongly or weakly depending upon the individual, around those people in the street. The brightness of it gave him hope. Even now, the brightness was growing and in that light he could see his father smiling. It was time to go.
He took another look at his body, crushed and deformed by the tram that had hit him moments ago, and at the people gathered around it trying to revive him. Then, he moved towards the Light. He grasped the hand of his father and was pulled into a hug as the Light enveloped him and the scene faded for all eternity.
From The Pink Bus and Other Strange Tales From LaLa Land – out now on Kindle….